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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, May 19, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Psalm 97

The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice;
   let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
   righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him,
   and consumes his adversaries on every side.
His lightnings light up the world;
   the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
   before the Lord of all the earth.

The heavens proclaim his righteousness;
   and all the peoples behold his glory.
All worshipers of images are put to shame,
   those who make their boast in worthless idols;
   all gods bow down before him.
Zion hears and is glad,
   and the towns of Judah rejoice,
   because of your judgments, O God.
For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth;
   you are exalted far above all gods.

The Lord loves those who hate evil;
   he guards the lives of his faithful;
   he rescues them from the hand of the wicked.
Light dawns for the righteous,
   and joy for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,
   and give thanks to his holy name! (NRSV)

Psalm 97 tells us to rejoice. To see God’s glory and be glad! Then it paints a daunting Sturm und Drang picture of God on God’s throne—darkness and clouds all around and lightning flashing in the darkness. Yikes! These images make me look up, get small, and stand in awe of the glory of God.

But to rejoice? I have always had trouble connecting “fearing God” to “rejoicing in the Lord.” Softer, gentler passages like verse 11 help me rejoice: “Light is sown upon the righteous, and joy on the upright in heart.” But I am asked to be glad even considering verse 4: “His lightning lights up the world, and the earth trembled.” Perhaps I can do this.

I was taught that fearing the Lord is the beginning of understanding. So perhaps the Sturm and Drang image is answering Dr. John Buchanan’s request to “Startle us, O God.” As a Christian, I can embrace the fear of God and live in the knowledge that Christ can cast out my fear and set me free. I believe that I have access to as much of God as I have the faith to receive.

God, thank you for the magnificent displays of your power on this planet. I am grateful that I can move beyond fear and live in joy through my relationship with your Son. Amen.

Written by Katy Sinclair, Associate Director of Music for Children and Youth

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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